Return to Transcripts main page
OUT IN THE OPEN
Nine Dead in Omaha Mall Shooting
Aired December 5, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable breaking story that is taking place now in Omaha.
We're now getting some details from police as well indicating that they want people in the Omaha area to stay away from this mall. Nine people are now dead. Let's try and bring you up to date.
Will, if you can, go ahead and put some of the pictures up that we have been following on this story to get the viewers caught up. There we go. That's a shot from outside this mall.
Right now, nine people dead, including the shooter. Five more are injured, three of them critically. And we're going to go through that for you, by the way. We have been getting some reports from hospital officials indicating that those at the hospital are really not doing so well.
That department store that you're seeing right there in the -- on the right, just before we switched to the helicopter, that's called the Von Maur store. It's at the Westroads shopping mall. There you see people being taken out in gurneys. We have been watching these pictures for the last several hours of people just being taken out, police meeting with some of the people in the area who have been affected.
Let's see if we can switch over to those other pictures now, what happened just after this incident. Really, panic set in, people screaming and running for the exits. A lot of them didn't know what to do. We're also getting reports of people who were hiding in some of the dressing rooms inside several of the stores and in the storage rooms, where they keep some of the merchandise.
They were frightened, according to employees there, didn't know what to do. Many of them got on their knees and simply started praying, while they started hearing rounds fired. Then they finally left the area with their hands up.
According to witnesses on the scene, many of the people as they were leaving and as the police were coming in -- by the away, it took police about seven minutes to get to the scene -- the people were seen screaming from the mall. Shortly after the shooting, the shoppers finally did, as you saw some of those pictures there, they started coming out with their hands up, but still a remarkable scene that is taking place there in Omaha, Nebraska.
We should tell you -- and this is interesting -- that the president of the United States happened to be in Omaha earlier today. Suzanne Malveaux, our White House correspondent, as you know, follows the president.
So, we have got -- we have got a lot of people to talk to, a lot of information to pass your way, a lot of video to show.
But let's start with Suzanne to bring us up to date on what is going on here. And, also, we want to welcome viewers around the world watching us on CNN International as well to see the unbelievable results of this mass shooting here in our own country.
Suzanne, get us started.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rick.
We got here about 15 minutes ago. We were actually in Des Moines, Iowa, drove about two-and-a-half-hours to get here. We're in the parking lot of the shopping center, Westroads Mall. On the other side of the lot is the Von Maur department store. That's where the chaos ensued.
There are a number of very vivid descriptions of what happened, not only from the Omaha police here who we have talked to, but as well as many of the witnesses. The outcome of all of this tragedy, nine people killed, five wounded -- among the dead, the alleged gunman. Police say that they believe he shot himself, he took his own life after shooting and killing eight other people.
Now, the police explained the situation. They say that the mall was packed, the department store was full of people, when this lone gunman came in. He was on the third floor of the department store. They don't believe he had an accomplice. And it was about 1:40 local time in the afternoon when he opened fire. Now, witnesses say that he -- he shot from a single rifle anywhere from 20 to 40 rounds into a big, big crowd.
What happened after that really was pandemonium. A lot of witnesses saying that they were running, that they were holding onto clothes racks, that they were jumping into dressing rooms, they were cowering in the bathrooms after hearing these shots coming from the third floor.
Now, one of the witnesses describes. They say that they saw this -- this gunman, that he was a very tall man, and that he was shooting down a man who was on the escalator, going down the escalator who was saying that he was going to dial 911. He had heard the shots and one witness says she actually saw the gunman who shot him in the head as he was on the escalator, all of this ensuring within minutes. Police say about six minutes, they arrived on the scene.
It was about 4:00 when they were able to assess that the gunman had actually shot and killed himself and were able to talk to a lot of the people here.
SANCHEZ: We were looking at some of the pictures. And we're talking now with Suzanne Malveaux, our White House correspondent. She's there outside the mall.
The president of United States was there earlier.
Suzanne, before we let you go, has there been a statement from the White House or the president on this?
MALVEAUX: Well, the president was here. He left about an hour before this whole shooting took place. He was about seven miles away from this mall at a Republican fund-raiser.
The White House, the press secretary issued a statement this evening saying that this was a tragedy, that he offered his condolences to the victims, and as well as the families.
And, Rick, we should let you know that we are getting some late information about the shooter and a possible motive here, a law enforcement telling -- an official telling CNN that a suicide note was found at the shooter's home by his mother...
MALVEAUX: ... and that this note said something along the lines that he wanted to go out in style. Now, that official couldn't confirm anything beyond that, except for they thought he was probably about 19 or 20 years old.
SANCHEZ: Well, hold on.
SANCHEZ: I am going to just stop you right there, because that's brand-new information. That's something we hadn't heard before.
We had heard that he had left a suicide note with his mother. We didn't know what the contents of that suicide note are.
So, once again, and for the viewers now joining us, nine people dead, breaking news story that we're following, at a mall in Omaha. And Suzanne Malveaux is on the phone with us.
Tell us again what you understand that he may have been saying in this note, because we're going to be talking to a profiler in just a little bit. And that might give us some insight into what this guy was thinking.
Go again on that.
MALVEAUX: Sure. Sure, Rick.
Well, this is a law enforcement official who told CNN that a suicide note, what appeared to be a suicide note was found at the alleged shooter's home by his mother, that his mother had presented this note to law enforcement officials and that it said something along the lines that he wanted to go out in style. Now, that's how the official described it to CNN.
And that's about as far as he's going to go with that.
MALVEAUX: But that does give some sort of suggestion, perhaps even a clue to a possible motive. The official cannot confirm the identity of the shooter that is being reported by some of our affiliates here. But the official did say that he believes that that suspect was 19 or 20 years old and that that certainly was a possible motive.
SANCHEZ: Suzanne Malveaux, stand by. We are going to be coming back to you in just a little bit.
We have somebody else on the line now who can join us. This is Jennifer Kramer. She happened to be shopping there at the mall with her mother. It's the Von Maur mall. And I believe -- correct me if I'm wrong, Jennifer. Am I pronouncing that right? Is that what it's called there in Omaha?
JENNIFER KRAMER, WITNESS TO MALL SHOOTING: Yes.
SANCHEZ: The Von Maur mall?
SANCHEZ: Where were you and what did you see?
KRAMER: Well, actually, Von Maur is the store.
My mom and I were shopping this afternoon. And we were just coming up the escalator on to the second floor. And, as I have heard, the gunman was on the third floor. We were just getting off the escalator on the second floor, and I heard two loud booms.
And it sounded like a cannon. And then they started coming quicker. And I looked at my mom. I said, we have got to get out of here.
And she is like -- I said, I think that's gunfire. And she said surely not that's not gunfire. And she turned to walk towards the glass railing in the atrium. And I grabbed her arm and I said, we have got to go, because then they started coming in succession.
And we took off running. And some people were standing in the men's department, and they saw us running, and they started running. And I think they ran into dressing rooms. My mom and I ran towards the back of the men's department. And we crouched down. And then the gunshots were coming loud. I didn't know where he was. I didn't want to move.
So, I told her to get into the pants rack that was right next to mine. And they were circular racks. So, we got into the middle of that and just crouched down in there. And I called 911. And they said that they had already heard that there had been shots fired and that they had people on the way. But they couldn't tell me anything else. And the gunshots just kept coming. And then when they stopped, I was terrified. I didn't know if he had shot himself or if he was just wandering around. I just kept waiting for him to show up.
SANCHEZ: Did you ever see the gunman?
KRAMER: I did not. From where we came up the escalator, if he was on the third floor near the escalator, he would have been directly behind us. That's why it scares me to death to think about that my mom turned around and walked and was looking up, because she was thought it was construction. And I grabbed her and said...
SANCHEZ: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt.
Did you see any of the other people who were hit?
KRAMER: When we were being run out with the police, the police were getting us out, there was a gentleman standing -- or laying on the ground right where we had come off the escalator. And he had obviously been shot.
SANCHEZ: How close were you to the actual gunfire? Or is there any way you can tell? Was it the sound or did you see anything being hit?
KRAMER: I didn't see anything being hit.
When it started, it was -- the mall -- or the store has a central atrium where all the escalators go up. And we were just coming off the second floor. So, we were in the central atrium area where he was firing from. And, like I said, right where we came off the escalator, there was a wounded gentleman there when we were leaving. So, I didn't see the gunman.
SANCHEZ: Is the central atrium part of the Von Maur, the store, or is it part of the shopping mall?
KRAMER: The mall is the Westroads. The store is actually Von Maur. It's a department store.
SANCHEZ: But this atrium area that you're area, is that outside the store?
KRAMER: No, it's directly in the middle of the store. The store is three levels. And the atrium area in the middle is where all the escalators go up. And it's open, and there's a glass railing, and you can look all the way down and all the way up.
SANCHEZ: And he was found on the third floor by police in the end. How did that happen? Does that make sense with what -- how do you reconcile with what you're telling us?
KRAMER: Well, when the shots started, it was echoing through the whole atrium. And it sounded like it was coming from up above. And that's why we started running. Whether he fired down at the gentleman who was near the escalators, I don't know. The whole area is open, though.
And, like I said, the escalators kind of crisscross up. So, he could have been standing up there firing down. But it was echoing through the whole entire store.
SANCHEZ: By the way -- and this is important. And I don't know if you can't tell or don't know the difference. I don't know if you have any kind of military background. But could you tell if it was automatic gunfire? What was the repetitiveness of the gunfire? Were they sporadic or was it together?
KRAMER: It was -- I do know a little bit about guns. My dad has always had guns. And I knew from the sound of it that it was a very large gun. And it sounded semiautomatic just from the way it was before fired. It didn't -- it was coming in succession, but not really, really fast. Does that make sense?
SANCHEZ: Hold on. We have got some of the pictures coming in now as well.
Jennifer, stay with us, if you would, for just a moment, as we share some more of the information that we're getting now with some of the viewers.
As we look at some of the pictures, I can tell you that nine people officially are dead. We're being told as many as five more are wounded. Three are critical. I do believe I have some information here from the Associated Press.
It says that the gunman did indeed leave a suicide note. We're also getting information from at least one of the news organization there in Omaha that at the medical center there are several people who have been shot, and have sustained chest wounds. One man, a 61-year- old man, is in surgery. He is considered to be in critical condition.
The other two, 34-year-old male in fair condition, he was shot in the arm, and a 55-year-old male who was also struck, apparently injured his face after he tried to hold on to a clothing rack and ended up getting hit.
I can only imagine the mayhem inside these stores. We're also getting reports that 30 to 40 people were hiding out in one of the storage rooms. That was inside one of the stores just across from the store where the incident took place. So, this is an open mall that we're describing.
And you will be able to see it as you look at the pictures.
As a matter of fact, William, let me know when we're ready, because we do have a layout of this mall that we can actually show to people. There it is. There's the Westroads mall. You see -- right there in the bottom, you can see part of the store where the incident took place and where people then took off from.
Let's go to somebody else now, hospital spokesperson Andrea McMaster. She's joining us now by phone to bring us up to date on what is going on there.
How many patients did you take in, Andrea?
ANDREA MCMASTER, SPOKESWOMAN, NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Well, we took three patients in at our facility, our hospital. We have two hospitals here in Omaha who are prepped to take trauma patients.
That's Creighton University Medical Center. And I'm employed with the Nebraska Medical Center. And we did have three that came through here. And you just described those three individuals, the 61- year-old man who was shot in the left-upper chest. And he currently is in surgery as we speak.
He was brought in around 3:00 and then went almost immediately to the operating room. And he is still in the O.R. as we are talking right now.
SANCHEZ: I'm going to just stop you, because, as I hear you say that, I'm thinking to myself, is there anything that, from the injuries themselves, we can learn about perhaps what kind of weapon this suspect was using?
MCMASTER: That's not something that we can speculate about right now. But at this point that's not some -- some question that I'm going answer at this point.
SANCHEZ: Sixty-one-year-old man, he was shot in the armpit. It says he was shot in the chest in the reports that we're reading. That's what you're confirming, right?
MCMASTER: Yes. He was shot in the left-upper chest, which is important to point out, because, if it was in the main chest area, that's where our heart and our lungs are. But it was in the left- upper chest.
SANCHEZ: Hey, I'm almost hearing your voice break up a little bit as I'm talking to you. This is tough for the city of Omaha, isn't it?
MCMASTER: Yes, it really is.
Today was an exciting day, having the president in town, and all of a sudden, this happened. And we thought, this is not good for Omaha, really to put Omaha on the map this way. This is really rare, a rare occasion. It is. It's shaking up the whole city. I have to say that everybody here is walking around with goose bumps, saying we cannot believe this is happening. SANCHEZ: Tell me about the two other patients that you have at the hospital. You had begun to tell me about them. Why don't you go ahead and finish that off?
MCMASTER: We have a 34-year-old man who was also brought in with a gunshot wound to the arm. And he actually was just treated and released from the hospital.
I can tell you a little bit about him. He's a 34-year-old man who is an attorney in town. And he had a left-upper arm wound from a gunshot and also on his left index finger. He just spoke a couple of minutes ago with some local media here just describing what it was like for him.
He was at the mall today to look for a dress for his 2-year-old daughter to see Santa tonight. And, as he was walking around, he described hearing noises. And he thought it was balloons popping for about two seconds. And then he realized that he was shot.
And his wife started yelling, get down, get down. And he went into a nearby kind of a lounge area, where there's a baby-changing area. And that's when he really realized that he had been shot.
But, at that time, they called 911. And the 911 dispatch said, stay put. Police are trying to secure the scene. And some time later the sheriff came in and announced himself and the door was guarded, and then the sheriff then helped and escorted him out and down to the ambulance.
MCMASTER: While he was in the ambulance, though, he was feeling OK enough to text-message his friends, so that they knew that he was doing OK.
SANCHEZ: Andrea McMaster there at the medical center, we thank you for bringing us up to date on this.
A couple of other items. We're getting information now about the shooter. The information we have is that he's identified as Robert Hawkins of Bellevue, Hawkins apparently 19 years old, been arrested on a couple of misdemeanors in November, was due in court this month. One charge included possession, I imagine, of a handgun.
As we get more information on this, we're going to be sharing it with you. We're also going to be talking to some profilers and some experts. We have also got more guests lined up outside the hospital there to talk to bring you up to date, people who were there when the shooting took place and as they saw this scene unfold, mass shooting, Omaha, Nebraska, on the very day the president of the United States visits.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. I'm scared. It's hard to think. And I just kept hoping God would spare us, because that's -- I got my rosary in my hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to CNN's OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez.
We also want to welcome our viewers internationally on CNN-I, International.
The situation in the heartland of America is a sad one today. Just about an hour after the president of the United States visited Omaha, Nebraska, there has been a mass shooting there inside a shopping mall. Nine people are dead. Five people are hospitalized, several of them in critical condition at this point.
We are getting some new information about the shooter. Apparently, his name is Hawkins, 19, had been arrested on a couple of misdemeanors in November, was due in court this month. I told you that just moments ago.
Let's bring in somebody now who can talk to us a little bit about this, David Katz, former FBI?
DAVID KATZ, FORMER DEA AGENT: DEA.
SANCHEZ: Former DEA.
And when you hear this information that I was sharing with you just moments ago -- let me go over it with the viewers a little bit -- a friend of Hawkins says that Sean (ph) said something about Hawkins had been on antidepressants. He was staying with friends at Quail Creek, and that he had recently begun bouncing from job to job, shocked to hear that possibly he may have been suicidal.
What do you make of that?
KATZ: Typically, when you look at the patterns that exhibit themselves in an analysis after these incidents, you find people who have a history of psychiatric problems. They're loners. They're depressed, There are feelings of insignificance. They have had probably minor brushes with the law, maybe some substance abuse problems. So, this is very, very common and not surprising.
SANCHEZ: But here's the question. And I think it's what people at home would probably be asking themselves, is, why would you -- OK, fine, you're having serious problems within yourself, internally. Why would you externalize this and go after other people? What did they have to do with your problem? KATZ: Nothing.
This is a pathetic attempt that some people have to try to aggrandize themselves. This person was -- I guess probably had feelings of being an insignificant individual, and this is some pathetic attempt to aggrandize themselves, at the expense of ruining other people's lives and taking lives.
SANCHEZ: All right.
A lot of people who are watching us right now -- and, Will, if you could, show those pictures of the mall once again. There it is. A lot of people are getting ready to do their holiday shopping. And that means that the malls are going to be crowded. This particular mall had something like 1.5 million people going through there, according to statistics that we have been reading. They're worried as they watch these pictures.
They're probably feeling better now that they have found that this may have been a lone gunman who may have had a previous. But here's some information.
The gunman apparently walked into the mall. He was wearing camouflage, carrying a rifle. Good God, shouldn't somebody have stopped -- shouldn't malls in this day have better security than that?
KATZ: Well, you're exactly right.
In most retail security settings, the guards are poorly paid, poorly trained. And you can't expect a person making minimum wage to engage an armed individual like this. Until we understand that there is a need for enhanced security, for better people, to pay first of all a professional wage, make guards a profession, and not just -- just put warm bodies in a post, then you will have some meaningful enhancement in security. But, until then, retail security settings are not equipped or trained to handle a situation like this.
SANCHEZ: So, we need -- your suggestion is malls across America and especially this time of the year, when they're packed with people, need to boost their security operations, right?
KATZ: Yes. I could tell you, what we do in our company, you combine uniformed guards that you try to first of all pay a much better wage, get the best people available, and you supplement them by either current or former law enforcement officers. Make them the site supervisors. Then you have trained first-responders who are armed, who, in conjunction with a security detail, can address a situation like this. But it's very -- it's the exception, rather than the rule.
SANCHEZ: All right.
Once again, as we go to break, let me let you know a little more of the information that we can tell you about Hawkins, the shooter in this case. He said that he was -- at least one person is saying now that he last saw him several months ago. Another Hawkins friend said he heard about the shooting during school, called Hawkins a great guy in this case. "He was like a brother to me," said wasn't so much angry as confused, but wanted to go out like a star.
Interesting, the same point that you were making a while ago, that oftentimes, these guys want to go out with some kind of notoriety, because they're frustrated or can't find that in their lives, huh?
KATZ: Yes. It's just a tragedy that eight other people had to go with him. And these people talk about, my friend, I knew he was troubled. I thought he might do -- why don't these people get help, call the police, call someone close to them, get care for these people before an incident like this happens?
SANCHEZ: All right, David Katz, we thank you so much for bringing us up to date on this story.
Several other stories that we're going to be following on this day, and, of course, we're going to be all over the situation in Omaha. We will have it for you. As the information comes in, we will be sharing it with you right away.
And we're also expecting to talk to other witnesses who was there -- who were there, I should say, when the shooting took place.
Breaking news, mall massacre. Stay with us. We will be right back.
SANCHEZ: Once again, it's a breaking news story that we're following for you. I want to show you some of these pictures now that we were telling you about.
We told you earlier that this is an open mall. What that means is that they have the stores stranded throughout different places and then you see some of the areas.
OK. There's Von Maur. See that down there. That's the store which has three stories on it. They found the suspect, apparently all the way -- the killer, I should say, on the third floor and that's where at least seven of the eight people who were found were also killed. Apparently, one of them died later on at the hospital.
We have an opportunity now to talk to somebody who is a victim in this case, Jeff Schaffart. He was shopping, apparently, for a dress for his daughter. He's good enough to join us. Jeff, are you there?
VOICE OF JEFF SCHAFFART, INJURED IN MALL SHOOTING: I'm here.
SANCHEZ: Take us through your story. What did you see? What happened?
SCHAFFART: Well, I didn't see much of anything. I was up there on the third floor of Von Maur with my wife over a lunch break basically. We were out shopping for a Christmas dress to take our daughter to go see Santa tonight. She was not with us at the time. She was at daycare. It was just a lunch break for my wife and I. We were trying to grab -- basically grab a Christmas dress. You know, up on the third floor is where the children's clothing was.
SCHAFFART: And I, you know, I heard something that sounded like pop -- it sounded like balloons popping at first and then I walked away. I was up there on that third floor and I just walked into the -- you know, I heard yelling. My wife was saying, get down, get down. Other people were yelling. There was some chaos, and I was about 10 or 15 feet away from the women's lounge area.
And I walked in there and took a right, which would be towards the north, that you have, you know, seen in the direction from that picture of the mall you've been showing. And there's a little baby changing area there and I was in there for a couple of minutes with a lady and a -- and she was in there with her child. In the baby changing area, it sounded like the gunshots have subsided.
I tried to get my wife who was hiding basically in the clothes, in the clothes pile, in a clothes display up there on the floor where all of this tragedy was going on.
SANCHEZ: I understand that you were -- I understand, Jeff, that you were shot.
SCHAFFART: Yes, I was shot on the -- in my left arm and in my left hand. I'm very, very fortunate to be alive tonight in light of the injuries I suffered and where I was shot.
SANCHEZ: So you just -- you just told me that your wife was hiding, which means you heard the gunfire...
SANCHEZ: And then you all started reacting to it. Did you see the gunman?
SCHAFFART: I never -- I never did get to see the gunman.
SANCHEZ: You were on -- but you were on the floor where he was, as I understand it earlier? I was just --
SCHAFFART: Yes, I was on the floor where he was on and I did not notice, you know, the suspicious looking guy that I've heard on the news dressed that's been dressed in camouflage and all that. I didn't see him, but you know, wasn't paying attention.
SANCHEZ: How many people were around you at the time? How many people were in that area?
SCHAFFART: Ten to 15.
SANCHEZ: What did they do? SCHAFFART: They all got down on the ground as far as I could tell. And then when I went back into this lounge area, it was in the diaper changing area, I realized I had been shot. I tried to retrieve my wife from the, you know, from the third floor main area but she won't come out. She told me to go back in there, and then I ended up walking, you know, from the baby changing area over into the -- basically, over into the women's restroom and there was, you know, some women there that were trying to come out.
And we told them, you don't want to go out there. There's something horrible happening, and we did basically sit out in the women's restroom. I had been shot in the arm and the hand. In my hand, we used the paper towels in there to put like gauze on the --
SANCHEZ: Let me ask you -- let me ask you a question because I think people would want to know, when you suddenly realized that somebody is shooting in a crowd of people, what happened? Did people start running? Did they start screaming? Did they become eerily quiet? Describe that for us?
SCHAFFART: I was only in the area for a few seconds, and I'd say it was, you know, just screaming and people yelling, "Get down, get down. Oh, my God." I mean, that's the kind of stuff I heard.
SANCHEZ: Can you tell -- could you tell from which direction the bullets were coming? Where do you get down? What do you hide behind? How do you know you're not exposing yourself more when you make a move? Did you think about these things?
SCHAFFART: I didn't think about them. At the time, I knew they had to be coming from behind me, though, because I was only about 10 or 15 feet away from the entrance to this women's lounge area. And there's, you know, I could see in front of me, coming in front of me -- I went that way. And there were just, you know, people just got down, hid in the clothes racks. Just down. Anywhere they could be.
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, what an amazing story. This happening in Omaha, Nebraska. For those of you just joining us, breaking news still developing. Police still questioning some of the people who are there at the mall hoping that they get more clues so they can put this together.
But it does appear that a killer, someone described as a madman, suddenly took out a rifle in a shopping mall, killed eight people, five more hospitalized, three in critical condition. We're going to be talking to more witness as we continue this special edition of OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in the back room in the wrapping, where you wrap. And there's doors between us and the customer service, and we heard this "pop, pop, pop." And they said, someone came running and said gun. And so we all flew in the back, way in the back of the store where they keep the cleaning supplies and we hid back there. But when we went out, we had to go past the bodies. We had to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You can almost hear in her voice how disturbed she is by what she witnessed. Many people of the people leaving the mall lucky to be alive.
Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. This is OUT IN THE OPEN. Breaking news out of Omaha, Nebraska. Just after the president of the United States had left Omaha, Nebraska, a shooting there at a mall. Nine people are dead, five people are hospitalized, three in critical condition.
By the way, of the nine that we're talking about, one of them is the shooter himself. On the third floor of a store, he committed suicide. According to police, still a lot of questions as to how this happened, why this happened, and what was inside the mind of the shooter to take so many people out with himself. Why would he do something like this?
We're getting some new details now as we continue to follow this breaking news. Police continue to do interviews with some of the shoppers who were there at the mall. In fact, they told us just a while ago that they're interviewing them to find out what they could have known. Those who don't know they're letting them leave the area. We're also getting information that police are telling people in Omaha not to go anywhere near the vicinity of that mall, information that we thought we would pass along to you.
Let's bring now Alan Lipman. Alan Lipman is the founder and director of the Center for Study of Violence. I guess we could say that you make it your business to understand the minds of people as disturbed as this gentleman seemed to be. His name is Robert Hawkins.
ALAN LIPMAN, FOUNDER, CTR. FOR THE STUDY OF VIOLENCE: That's right.
SANCHEZ: Just from what you heard so far, Alan, what do you make of this character?
LIPMAN: Well, of course, we always want to be careful not to speculate before all the information is in.
SANCHEZ: Of course.
LIPMAN: But, you know, we've seen a lot of these shootings. I mean, we've seen Springfield, Tacoma. We've seen Utah, and the information that we've seen so far suggests a few possibilities. Typically in these cases, the person is either psychotic. They're either sociopathic or they're depressed. And you asked an excellent question.
You said, why when someone is depressed would they turn it outward in this violence instead of inward? SANCHEZ: Right.
LIPMAN: This is more like Virginia Tech. This is more like Columbine, I believe, than the other mall shootings. This, I believe, we will say when the facts come out, will be an angry kid, long inherent history of depression, long period of antidepressants, told other people that he was going to be violent in the past and felt so hopeless and enraged, that just like Cho in the Virginia Tech killings...
LIPMAN: ... he felt like the only option was to go out in a blaze of glory. So you know, if you're going to grandiose yourself, you don't necessarily do it in a suicide path.
SANCHEZ: That is so troubling, though. Let me read you some more information we're just now getting in. This is from Associated Press. Interviews they've done with folks in his neighborhood there in Bellevue, which apparently is a middle class area.
SANCHEZ: They say, when he first came into the house, he was introverted, a troubled young man who was a lost pound puppy that nobody seemed to want.
SANCHEZ: Not sure exactly what that means. Hold on Jeff, what do you want to say?
LIPMAN: I'll tell you what it means.
SANCHEZ: Hold on just a minute, Alan. My producer's telling me that we've got some pictures now. Oh, picture of the suspect. Is that what you're saying? All right. Let's go. Here we go.
New video coming in now. This is the suspect. This is what he looks like.
LIPMAN: Oh, there he is.
SANCHEZ: This is the first time that we've been able to get a shot of him. I'm going to just lean up here so I can see him myself. Robert A. Hawkins. Just looks like any young kid, doesn't he?
LIPMAN: Well, look a little closer, Rick, because what you see there and what I think we'll begin to see is someone who was lost, who wasn't seen, who was someone who was kind of a shut in, perhaps lost in a kind of fantasy world, a lot like Cho. This is someone who I'll bet you we'll find out in the coming days was telling people that he was angry, was talking about fantasies --
(CROSSTALK) SANCHEZ: Well, yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, you're right. I was reading a report just moments ago from one of the stations there that seemed to indicate that one of his friends thought he was extremely depressed, was on antidepressants, and was seemingly suicidal within the last couple of weeks.
LIPMAN: Well, this is what I mean. Now, let me tell you something about this. The secret service did a report on killers just like this over the last 15 years or so.
LIPMAN: We worked on a part of that report in a group that I was working on. And in every single one of these cases, the person tells other people, friends, family members, coworkers, teachers that they're going to do it. And unbelievably, Rick,...
SANCHEZ: Going to do?
LIPMAN: ... they don't respond.
SANCHEZ: Going to do it? Did you say -- because it's one thing to tell. Listen, we all get depressed, and I've told people, yes, I'm a little depressed today.
SANCHEZ: There's a difference between being depressed and being suicidal to the point of being manic and wanting to kill other people.
LIPMAN: Rick, well, he wasn't manic. But Rick, there's a difference between depressed, which is the common nomenclature that people use when they feel down, sad, blue, down in the dumps.
LIPMAN: And clinically depressed, this kid now we know, as I have suggested earlier, was on antidepressants.
LIPMAN: I suspect there'll be a long history of that. And depression, Rick, is anger turned inward. That's the classic phrase for it. And sometimes when kids get so hopeless, like Dylan Klebold, like Eric Harris, like Cho, and now like Hawkins, they turn it outward and they want to go out in a blaze of glory.
Remember the pictures that we saw at the end of Virginia Tech?
LIPMAN: The kind of grandiose explosion of suicidal rage? Hawkins -- that's what we're seeing here. And I suspect when we see the suicide note, we will see a story of a troubled, angry, depressed, unseen man. SANCHEZ: Well, hold on. We're getting -- you know, we're just now getting new information from the "Omaha World Herald" that he apparently had lost his job. I guess we could say he'd been fired for stealing money. So there -- I don't know --
LIPMAN: It provoked the incident.
SANCHEZ: The triggering mechanism, right? I mean, this is the thing --
LIPMAN: That's the provoking incident. You know, with Cho, we saw it when he was having trouble with his grades. With Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, we saw it when there was confrontation with the parents. Now we see it with Hawkins, someone who's depressed --
SANCHEZ: How do we protect ourselves against people like this, especially in public places? That's part of the discussion that we're going to continue as we look into this breaking news?
LIPMAN: There's an answer.
SANCHEZ: We'll get back to you, Alan. Stay where you are. We're going to come back in just a little bit. We're going to take a break.
On the other side, more information, more witnesses who were there on the scene. More of my discussion with Alan about who the suspect was. And I guess a key question for all of us, if we plan to go out in public, which we can't help but do, how do you protect yourself against somebody like this? You'll have the answer. Stay right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was stepping off the escalator, and I heard loud booms. She turned around and walked towards the escalator, and I grabbed her and we started running to the back. I don't think anybody believed it was gunshots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We've got some new pictures coming in on this breaking news story we've been telling you about in Omaha, Nebraska. This are the very first shots inside the mall itself. This is according -- this has been sent to us by an I-Reporter.
This is part of the mall. We don't know if this is actually the store, Von Maur store, where the shooting broke out. These are, though, the very first interior shots that we have seen since we've following this story.
We've also got some stills that you're going to see here. These also from I-Reporters from inside the store as this was taking place. We'll leave those pictures up. Let's bring Alan Lipman up just to close out his segment. Alan, the question to you was, how do we protect ourselves from people like this? And your answer is?
LIPMAN: Well, I'll tell you what. My answer is this. We always end up focusing time and time again on physical security. We'll put up barriers. We'll find better locks. We'll find stronger walls. The key security that we need to focus on is the security in the minds of these troubled, angry, young men. Not because they're justified. Because they're enraged and they are seen.
The secret service report, Rick, shows that in virtually 90 percent of these cases, they talked to people and indicate that they will do these actions, and people do not know how to respond...
SANCHEZ: Maybe we need to --
LIPMAN: ... do not take it seriously --
SANCHEZ: We need to be better listeners, and we need to pay attention when people say things like this.
Alan, interesting point. Thanks so much for being was.
LIPMAN: You bet.
SANCHEZ: Let's go back out to Suzanne Malveaux. She's at the scene. We're now looking at some of the very first pictures, very first interiors as well. Suzanne, your take?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we may be getting some more information, some details very shortly, Rick, because we understand there's going to be an update, a press conference, perhaps, in the next couple of minutes, five to 10 minutes or so about what actually took place inside of the mall.
Behind me, you can't actually see the store where I'm standing, but you can see over there. It's the headquarters that's been set up by Omaha police, as well. Salvation Army set up here.
I had a chance just moments ago to talk to the president of the Von Maur Department Store, Jim Von Maur, and he was distraught. He had very little information about what was happening here. He didn't know even if some of those employees or whether any of his employees were the ones who had been shot and killed in the shooting. He simply said he got a phone call this afternoon. Early evening, got on the next plane from Davenport, Iowa, out here as quickly as he could.
But this has really been a shocking situation for his family that owns the department store, as well as so many people out there. As I had mentioned before, this was a mall and a shopping center that was packed when this shooting took place.
SANCHEZ: And have a lot of people thinking about the same thing? And there'll be a lot of security questions asked of him and of mall directors all over the country.
Suzanne, thanks for being with us. We're going to coming right back to wrap this up for you. The latest information coming out of Omaha, Nebraska, just before Larry King's interview with Brad Pitt. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: As we leave you tonight, we wanted to show you the face of a killer, Robert Hawkins, 19 to 20 years old. A mass killer according to police there because he took out eight people. Some in the hospital in critical condition. That means that that death toll might still rise. We are going to be continuing to follow this story and bring you the very latest as it happens.
Witnesses will continue to talk to police, and our sources will bring us more information. If you were at the mall and you have got video, please send it to us. We will share it and let people see exactly what happened out there today.
From some of those I-Reporters, interestingly enough, this happens just one hour after the president of the United States had made a visit to Omaha, Nebraska. Again, as we get the information, we'll share it with you.
Thanks so much for being with us. I'm Rick Sanchez. OUT IN THE OPEN ends now. "LARRY KING LIVE" begins now with a special edition and an interview with Brad Pitt from New Orleans. Thanks again.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com